Blade Runner: 2049
It’d be fair to say there wasn’t exactly a high demand for ‘Blade Runner: 2049’. The average movie goer likely found the often-pondering neon-noir original too alienating to crave a sequel while fans of what has become the ultimate cult classic were sceptical of the original’s legacy being tarnished. However, this follow up to the 1982 science fiction masterpiece is against all odds a more than worthy successor. ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ isn’t just a downright incredible film in its own right, as a sequel it’s one of the best of all time.
Even though there may be more than three and a half decades in between the two films ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ is very much a continuation of ‘Blade Runner’ both thematically and narratively. Like the first film the musing on what it means to be human is at the core of the film, the struggle between humanity and replicants (basically the name for androids in the Blade Runner universe) is also once again at the forefront. The central narrative also makes several references to its predecessor coupled with plenty of winks and nods for eagle eyed fans, it’s fair to say that if you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing the first ‘Blade Runner’ then ‘2049’ is not your jumping in point.
The film revolves around a blade runner, special police officers that hunt down replicants, in the form of K (Ryan Gosling) unearthing a potentially world altering secret and his quest to unravel it. Gosling is the perfect leading man for a ‘Blade Runner’ film, he’s moody and contemplative and gives Harrison Ford strong competition for the best leading man in the franchise. K’s relationship with Joi, portrayed by Ana de Armas, gives the film its most human moments, their pairing is both deeply compelling and utterly brilliant when you consider the themes of the franchise.
It’s somewhat of a shame that the film’s marketing has pushed Harrison Ford’s return so heavily because the return of Rick Deckard would have made for a wonderful reveal. Nevertheless, it’s still undeniably exciting to see such an iconic science fiction character return, and even in his older age Ford has not lost his touch with Deckard being just as gruffly roguish as you remember. The supporting cast as a whole are equally solid, Robin Wright, Jared Leto and Mackenzie Davis all have fairly small roles but each slot in with ease. Sylvia Hoeks is the de facto bad guy, a replicant working for the big bad Wallace Corporation, and she’s pleasingly menacing each time she pops up to thwart K’s quest for answers, though her motivation remains a little too unclear.
Gosling is the perfect man in front of the camera and similarly Denis Villeneuve is equally triumphant behind it. Make sure you see ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ on the biggest screen possible as the entire film is a visual treat, a small monitor or laptop screen cannot do it justice. Villeneuve manages to take the franchise in bold new directions but makes clear connections to the established universe. Thankfully the lo-fi look of the first film is replicated in K’s grim apartment and the seedy underbelly of the futuristic LA with painstaking attention to detail. ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ is a clear labour of love for Villeneuve and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he was clearly the only man for the job.
It must be noted however that much like its predecessor ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ won’t be to everyone’s taste. There’s barely a lick of action in the films lengthy near three hour run time, and much of the film is spent drinking in the gorgeous cinematography or watching Gosling sullenly glaze into space. None of this is a criticism against the film, had the film been anything else it would have been a betrayal of its origins, it’s just worth noting. If you’re looking for a fast paced, action heavy sci-fi flick then perhaps steer clear, if however, you want a more thoughtful and technically unparalleled sci-fi feature then you need to see this film as soon as possible.
‘Blade Runner: 2049’ is a remarkable film, it’s far less ground breaking than the original ‘Blade Runner’ but it’s no less incredible. Ryan Gosling and Denis Villeneuve are the perfect duo to bring this beloved universe into the twenty first century. That the film never resorts to cheap tricks or generic action spectacle and instead remains just as thoughtful and atmospheric as what came before it, is somewhat of a miracle. Put simply, ‘Blade Runner: 2049’ is quite possibly the best sequel ever made and if you have any fondness for the first ‘Blade Runner’ you’re doing yourself, and the remarkable team behind the film, a disservice if you don’t see it on the big screen.
Score - 10.0